Catalogue number
  • IWM 648
Production date
Place made
Subject period
  • whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 4

© IWM (IWM 648)

License Film
Object description

RAF film of how novice pilots complete their combat training in France and go on to fly operational patrols, summer 1918.

Physical description


Full description

(Reel 1) The film stresses that it shows normal RAF life and has not deliberately selected its scenes. It begins with a training camp for pilots in France. New pilots arrive and are brought from the station by 3-ton lorry with their kit. After a medical check-up and induction they queue to be issued with Lewis and Vickers machine guns for their combat training, and practise pistol shooting. They train in a flight-simulator on rails, enabling them to shoot at deflection targets. They learn on a dummy aircraft how to regulate interrupter gear. Finally on 19th August they are given their postings. (None of the postings matches the squadrons shown.) As they wait to leave they are sold newspapers. At Bertangles aerodrome between May and July the men relax before a patrol. The Wing adjutant phones orders to the commander of 84 Squadron, Major W S Douglas, and the flight commanders assemble the squadron. The squadron SE5a fighters stand wing-to-wing ready for take-off. (Reel 2) The base fitters strip machine guns and load the ammunition into a Sopwith 2F1 Camel of 209 Squadron. The Camels are bombed up. A flight of Sopwith 5F1 Dolphins of 23 Squadron starts out on patrol. 84 Squadron also takes off with the camera following the SE5as into the air (probably in a Bristol F2B Fighter of 48 Squadron) as they stunt fly around it. (Reel 3) The SE5as return to base. Two captured German aircraft, both intact, are displayed for the camera at the base: a DFW Aviatik CV and a Fokker DVII. RAF groundcrew also inspect the burnt out remains of another DVII and a Gotha GV with two "unexploded bombs" (fake) nearby. The crew of a Bristol Fighter of 48 Squadron report for debriefing by the base Intelligence officer. Fitters repair damage to the Dolphins, some hit by anti-aircraft fire which has torn their fabric. A wounded pilot is taken away by ambulance. Two training exercises in air cooperation. One has troops advancing through a smokescreen (no aircraft visible). The other has Cavalry charging against sacking targets with Camels flying overhead to "clear up machine gun nests" for the advance. This is presented as a genuine attack with German prisoners being brought in. "Are they downhearted? Ask them !" They are counted into a holding cage and sent on by rail. The aircraft return to Bertangles against the dusk sky. (Reel 4) The airmen relax by playing baseball and "bumble-puppy" (a ball game). A bull-terrier squadron mascot. Airmen and fitters of 209 Squadron pose beside their Camels. An SE5a engine is tested on a rig. A Camel has its engine tested. "The brigadier" (?) drives off. A chaplain conducts an open air service. Men socialise and play snooker in the Church Army tent. The barber's tent has a sign "Closed Sunday I Don't Think. Barber Abe Pilfold Hebrew". Two officers go off on leave, "where this sort of thing" (an RAF wedding) "has been known to happen". A final shot of the RAF flag.

Associated people and organisations
Associated places
Associated events
Associated keywords
Associated subjects

IWM Non Commercial Licence

The media for this item are free to reuse for non-commercial purposes under the IWM Non Commercial Licence. Video, sound and images can be embedded with the code we offer here, and images can also be downloaded.

By downloading any images or embedding any media, you agree to the terms and conditions of the IWM Non Commercial Licence, including your use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM (IWM 648)

  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML